Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Resilience and Overload

Resilience is a term we hear a lot these days. 

Here's a definition from Mind on the subject: 
There may be times or situations in our lives that are more difficult than others. The capacity to stay mentally well during those times is what we call ‘resilience’. 

The Mental Health Foundation have a downloadable Emotional Resilience Toolkit which you can access for free.

There's lot of information on the internet on how to build resilience, like this article on Tiny Buddha.

Amongst the items/ habits/ characteristics people recommend you work towards to achieve resilience, goal setting often comes up.

I think resilience is different for different people. Part of mine is understanding what my triggers are and working out what the best thing is to do when I feel my mood slip.

One of my key issues, ironically, has to do with goal setting - in that I set too many.

When I'm buoyant, that's great! I feel I can take on new challenges, make time for things, need to have this or that extra focus to mark my days by. I overload my schedule with the best of intentions, and I always forget that at some point there will be that tiny thing, that last straw, that tips me over the edge from ebullient to feeling smothered.

52 book reading challenge for 2017? Let's sign up! 

Join the local WI? Do it! 

Nominate myself to run two groups for my new WI, and sign up to be a member of three other groups? Yeah! Why not! 

Become a member of a writing group again and aim to finish one short story a month for submission? You got this! 

Next year's a big birthday so let's follow the fashion and come up with a list of 40 items to achieve, 3-4 a month to keep on track.

Work on those refashioning skills and upcycle one item of clothing a month. Cool!

Let's not forget all those other hobbies you want time for - embroidery, cross stitch, crochet, patchwork, sewing, papercraft, lino cut printing, photography, dressmaking, watercolour painting, art journalling, letter writing...

And socialising! Oh, no, can't forget that! Better get things booked in so I don't miss anyone out. No free weekends for another 3 months? Never mind. 

Housework too, that needs to be done. And I want to get more done in the garden this year.

And on and on and on.

Until one little thing goes wrong and my mood doesn't so much drop as plummet. I look at the goals I have tied myself to and realise how meaningless they are. I feel like I have no time whatsoever simply to stay still and appreciate life. I have a list for this and a list for that, a weight of to dos pushing me down so I don't actually feel like I have the energy to do much of anything at all. My hours are eaten up with tasks and errands and the minutes spew through my fingers like sand, impossible to hold in. Time haemorrhages on things I don't actually really want to do that day but have to in order to keep on top of things.

I posted recently on stopping my reading challenge. I'm also hereby scrapping my 40 by 40 list. Right now, it feels like a tick box exercise.

I need to work out how to prevent myself from overloading like this. It's a pattern I return to again and again. For me, resilience needs to be about building in a big fat red STOP! button that gets triggered each time I get tempted to add some new goal or commitment to my life. Am I adding this thing because it has meaning and worth to me, or because I have a compulsion to add another set of to dos to my existing list?

From Pixabay

Maybe a button won't be enough! I think I also need an audio track to go with it. Someone like Aretha Franklin ordering me to Think! And reminding my that freedom is far more important than a bulging list of things to get done.

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